Maritza Ruiz-Kim

Artist, San Francisco Bay Area

Goodbye from here

The sky above Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego
November 7th, 2012

I lost my nephew.
He was in the army, in Afghanistan for 3 weeks, and now he’s gone. 22 years old, and gone. Married, a father to a little baby boy, and he’s gone.
Now that death has visited my family, my own family, I know the clear disabling feeling that comes from loss. There is no confusion here. I felt that confusion after the multitude of incidents happened over the past few years, and I even felt it after my husband was held up by gunpoint in September when he was with my two sons. Each of those things that happened felt so close to home, so disruptive. Still, I was dogged with the sense that my return to normalcy was taking too long. But there is no confusion now. I have been hit with death in my own family, one of the only two nephews I have. I have lost my own flesh & blood.
I have the loss of all the years that’ve passed since I was with him when he was a baby. I was fourteen when he was born, and three years later I moved away for college. I began work, got married and had two sons. Every day was so full. There was a time when I saw those two little nephews had become young men, that childhood had passed. All those years went faster than I could have imagined, and it will never be the same again. The lost years feel so permanent now. I wish I could have done more with the time I had, so much more. Now here we are. I let the tears come & I let them go. So much is lost, but not all is lost.
Goodbye to my oldest nephew. You gave your life for the hope of bringing peace. For that and for so much more, you’ll always be my hero. On your final return home, you got all the honors you deserved. You left behind a son that has the same sparkle in his eyes. You’ll never never be forgotten. Goodbye from here. You mean the world to me.

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